February 20th, 2018
Ferdinand told me yesterday that I always talk about the past.
“In all of our conversations you are always drawn into the past. You get pulled back to those events and feelings. That prevents you from enjoying the present. You don’t need to forget the past, but you can release the feelings that hold you there.”
The Indians are always in the past. The past makes them who they are now. They recall the genocide of their people like the Jews remember the Holocaust. I get the impression that the Native American history molds the Native American present. They view everything through that lens. They hang on to their feelings like I hang on to mine.
There is an intense devotion to the ancestors. I don’t quite get that. I agree that our ancestors walk along with us, but I don’t have a deep admiration for mine. They were good people, mostly, but they were just people. They were strong and loyal, but they were also tragically flawed. The Native American emphasis on their ancestry is alien to me. I am interested in my place and purpose in the long chain of generations, but not like they are. They take it to s whole new level.
I find it difficult to fit in. There are so many things that I don’t understand.
We arrived at the Swinomish reservation yesterday. These people are a really tight community. Very inspiring. They are in the Skagit Valley. They fish salmon, and they have other enterprises. They are relatively loosely wealthy, and they care for each other. They really do.
The Swinomish community has an outstanding drug rehabilitation program. It could become a model for other reservations, and for the rest of the country. Everything that an addict needs to recover is located in one building. The program has helped over fifty heroin abusers to recover.
The Swinomish tribal community gave us an amazing farewell. They gave us three boxes of smoked salmon. Salmon goes for $20 a. pound. They might as have given us gold. The farewell ceremony included prayers, heartfelt speeches, and songs. Very moving.
Today we walk somewhere else, to another rez. I don’t know where.